Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Day 89

Learning Through Affliction

"It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn Your statutes"  Psalm 119:71 (Amplified).

Probation restrictions for our prodigals are often hard on the whole family.  House arrest is a time I found particularly stressful.  Even though our son was home we felt certain restrictions as well, never knowing when the probation officer would drop by.
The questions: Would our son be there when he came?  Would he sneak out after we went to bed or after the officer left?  Could we trust him not to steal from us?  If he didn't have driving privileges how could we arrange to get him downtown to check in or to court.  How long would it be before he broke probation and ended up in jail?
One particular time he did break probation and decided he would turn himself in.  He asked me to take him downtown.  As we sat in the lobby other boys there kept saying, "Run before they get here to take you back".  I kept praying they would get there quickly so the agony would be over.  Our son finally put his hands over his ears and refused to listen.  I was so thankful he wasn't fighting the inevitable but taking responsibility.
The sheriff arrived to take him to jail.  Once again I watched as he was taken away handcuffed, peering out the back window, looking so much like a little boy.  My heart broke but I knew it was the right thing to do.
It was very hard not to run after him, to rescue him, but something had to change.  Maybe this would get his attention.  I left praying for him and for the strength for myself to let go and let God do the work needed.  I prayed for his protection and for God's mercy. 
Maybe it is time for you to stop rescuing your loved one from difficult consequences.  Maybe it is time to realize it may be good for them to be afflicted.  The best lessons in our lives are often the most difficult.  It could be the time they learn God's statutes and make a lifetime change.  If you are not in this situation right now I pray that you will make right choices if the next time comes.  It will be hard but hopefully it will produce positive results.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Day 88

Day 88
When I Am Old and Gray-headed
"Yes, even when I am old and gray-headed O God, forsake me not, but keep me alive until I have declared Your mighty strength to this generation, and Your might and power to all that are to come" Psalm 71:18.
We often talk about the quickness of our passing days, about how fast time flies. When we are young we don't think we will ever be as old as our parents and certainly not as old as our grandparents, but before we can turn around there we are.
Then one day, way too soon, comes the first gray hair and we are shocked. We might even pull it out, but soon there are many more and it is impossible to remove them all. We may try to cover them up but it's an seemingly endless task. The truth is we will become gray headed whether we like it or not.
The thing is----will we be found declaring God's Word, His Truths, to the next generation in our more 'mature' years or will we teach them tolerance for the worldview on life both by the way we speak, or live before them? What makes us different from the world?
David cried out in our key passage for God to keep him alive to declare God's strength and power to the generations to come. What an example he was as he left us with his writings in God's Word. His prayer was answered as his words still impact us today.
What is your goal as you prepare for retirement----to store up wealth for a soft, vacation filled life---because after all you are entitled to it, or deserving of it, right? Or will you choose to further the gospel with your life, vowing never to retire from that. What legacy will you leave for your family and the generations to come? We meticulously prepare for our retirement but it sadly does not often include God's plan and purpose for our latter years. Most often it focuses on our comfort and ease while the world is dying without Christ.
What are your goals for your golden years? Consider offering yourself as a living sacrifice unto God. Allow Him to direct your path and be on mission with Him. Follow His calling, not your own. Continue to be productive in all your ways by declaring His might to the next generation. Take inventory and be intentional as you tell the world of God's might and power in the days He so graciously gives to you on earth.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Day 87

Are You Offended With God?

"And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me" Matthew 11:6.

When I was working I would often go to my car or sit at the picnic table if weather permitted to have time with the Lord.  One day during this time I was facing a very hard situation.  Our son had been arrested the day before and I felt like it was a time God could have intervened in the situation.  So why had He not?  That was a question I kept asking.
Struggling with this thought I opened the study book I had, "Believing God" by Beth Moore.  On the very page I was studying that day this is what it said:   Beth said,  "I'd go so far as to suggest that the deeper we have loved God, the  deeper the potential for devastation when God doesn't intervene as we know He can.  Blessed are we when we could be offended and choose with every shred of tattered faith not to be".
Okay, so I have a choice here.  Do I blame God for not intervening or do I express gratitude for how He had worked in it to stop worse repercussions.  I choose not to be offended but choose the blessing that come from trusting Him with it all.
What is your circumstance today?  Are you tempted to be offended with God for not making things turn out in the way you envisioned?  Will you believe that He is working all things together for your good and the good of those you love?  
We who love Him deeply know He is capable of changing our situation, but the test will come in whether we trust His plan and purpose if He doesn't?  He says we will be blessed if we choose the latter.  If you have been offended or angry with Him confess that today and choose to praise Him for how He is working even when you don't see the reasoning of it.  He knows the end of the story.  Why don't you trust Him with each circumstance in your life and not question Him like I did that day.  
I like the Living Bible version of our key passage:  "Blessed are those who don't doubt Me".  If there is any doubt about what He is doing in your life ask His forgiveness.

Day 86

What Is Your Addiction Or Stronghold?

"The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in Him" Nahum 1:7.

The definition of an addict is:  "To apply or devote oneself persistently or habitually; to cause to pursue or practice continuously; one who is addicted to some habit, especially to the use of narcotic drugs.  Accustomed; inclined to the pursuit, practice, or taking of anything.  One is addicted to that which he has allowed to gain a strong habitual, enduring hold on him" (Funk and Wagnalls).
We all tend to think of those who use substances of some kind to be addicted but this definition seems to apply to us all in one way or another.  We may be addicted to our job, a hobby, a sport, a relationship, a food or drink, to luxury, television, or any number of others.  So what is your addiction"  What have you allowed to have a strong, habitual, enduring hold on you?  A stronghold is an incorrect thinking pattern that has molded itself into our way of thinking.  What do you think on the majority of the time?
Some habits are good things but as we take inventory we may discover that we have developed practices that are destructive to our minds and our bodies.  We might just need to lay them down.  After all some of the things we think on are just stinking thinking.
If your focus is on anything more than it is on God and developing that relationship with Him then you might need to put things in your life in the proper order; God first.
One example for me was that years ago God convicted me of reading romance or mystery novels.  Whenever I started reading one I found everything else took a back seat.  I pretty much couldn't put the book down till I found out what happened in the end.  I was addicted and convicted.  What did they profit me anyway?  They didn't educate me or cause me to grow in my spiritual walk. At that point I laid them down never to read them again and that has been over twenty years ago.  
What things might you devote yourself to persistently or habitually?  Do they benefit you in any way or do they keep you from being in proper relationship with the Lord?   Do they draw you closer to God or benefit your character?   Make God the strong hold of your life today and put all others aside.

Day 85

Remember the Prisoner
"Don't forget those in jail.  Suffer with them as though you were there yourself.  Share the sorrow of those being mistreated for you know what they are going through" Hebrews 13:3 LBT.
What a privilege we have at On Wings to offer a pen pal ministry.  Several of us write the inmates who request correspondence and we have seen great results come from our efforts as we remember those in prison.
A couple of years ago a pen-pal I had been writing sent me a mug about friendship.  It said, "You simply can't imagine what a gift from God it's been to lean upon your kindness time and time again.  To know that I have someone who will listen with concern, and help me through each trial to the lessons I learn". He was expressing his appreciation for the relationship in Christ we had developed through writing.
What a blessing to receive that gift.  It really touched my heart and helped me know my letters were making a difference in someone's life.  I praised God with tears of joy at what He had done in both of us through the written Word as we shared experiences and became friends.
Some of the inmates get no mail at all and friends and family have deserted them for one reason or another.  They look forward to hearing their name called at mail call.  They need to know someone cares, someone still sees them as a person worth investing in, someone loves them instead of condemns, and someone can give them hope.
Our pen-pals are a light in the prisoners darkness as they share the love of Christ with them.  We also send Bibles as they request them to aid in their spiritual growth through God's Word.  Each month the inmate receives a Newsletter with a Bible Study included.  His Word never returns void, it always accomplishes its purpose.  We receive powerful letters of testimony of their impact.
Maybe you need to remember the prisoner today as if it were you or one of your loved ones.  As you write you have the opportunity to make a difference in their lives as you share and watch God's demonstration of transformation with hope of a second chance.  If you can't write will you pray for them as a whole or maybe you personally know someone in prison who needs your prayers.  With God all things are possible.

Day 84

Sheep Among Wolves

"Lo, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; be wary and wise as serpents and be innocent....harmless and without falsity.....as doves" Matthew 10:16. (Amplified).

My husband and I were traveling home one night and came face to face with an enemy as we exited the highway.  There in our path was a coyote (wolf), to me they are all the same.  He was huge and stood facing us in the headlights eye to eye.
Don't we wish we could 'see' our enemy all the time from a protected viewpoint, like an armored car?  We can't always see our enemy but we can stay in God's Word and learn not to be ignorant of his tactics.  We need to be able to recognize the enemy and stand firm on the truths of God's Word and protection.
The next morning I turned right to our key passage.  A wolf here was used to describe false prophets who persecute the true sheep and seek to destroy the church or ministry it targets.  Has your ministry experienced attacks from the enemy?  How did you respond? What do you do to guard against those attacks in the future?
Do you daily apply God's armor which guards us against his fiery darts?  Daily I pray on the armor which is our spiritual protection:  Lord, place on me your girdle of truth, your breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the spirit, the shield of faith, and my feet shod with peace.  Then I add the garment of praise, the oil of joy, and the fragrance of Jesus.  You can face the enemy with assurance with this preparation.
When I sense the temptation to respond to a difficulty in the flesh I reapply the armor which might be several times a day.  It helps me to refocus. You may want to apply this to your own life.  Satan will start shooting the darts before you ever put your first foot on the ground.  Put His armor on like you would your physical clothes each day before you go out into the world.
 Reading God's Word and applying His principles daily is the wise thing to do.  Do you have prayer partners who cry out to God on your behalf as you minister?  Our intercessors are crucial to what we we are able to do at On Wings.  We don't take their intercession for granted.  Their prayers as watchmen on the wall covers us as we go out.

Day 83

The Crown Of Life

"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him" James 1:12
The dentist is not my favorite place to go but it is sometimes a necessity.  My jaw tooth began to be sensitive to hot and cold so I decided to have it checked.  Turned out it was cracked.  At that point the dentist could fill it and it would last a while but eventually it would need a crown he said.
The need doesn't always come at a convenient time.  The signs began to develop that the tooth structure was weakening.  A long anticipated trip was imminent so I prayed and put off making an appointment till I got back.  It did last the weekend but now the time has come to go to the dentist.  The final straw was when I almost swallowed part of the tooth during sleep.
I have always thought  the term crown for a tooth was odd.  The crown I think about is the crown we will receive one day as promised to those that love God.  Along with it we will hopefully hear, "Well done my love, my servant you have been faithful in little and I will make you ruler over much".
Like the tooth we find we often are broken and have to go to the Great Physician for healing.  We often have to endure pain and sorrow on our journey.  But the good news is if we endure and overcome we are promised a crown of life.
The crown of life is for those who persevere in faith through the struggles, temptations, or disappointments life brings.  What an awesome picture we can envision of Jesus placing His crown of Life on our heads as we come through on the other side with our eyes focused on Him alone.
May this give you encouragement to finish your race of hardship and testing.  To live for eternity with Jesus will make all the hard things worth the journey.  These trials remain but for a short while in comparison to the glory we will have with Him one day.  Oh how glorious will that be.  Let me encourage you to remain faithful in your time of trial. God allows all things to work together for our good 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Day 82

"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape that ye may be able to bear it" 1 Corinthians 10:13.
We each have our individual weaknesses. I may have no desire to succomb to yours nor you to mine. We are wise if we discover what that weakness is in our life. Could it be an addiction, pride, gossip, pornography, a foul mouth or jealousy, just to name a few?
God said He would make a way out of the temptation that so easily besets us, but we have a part in that also. We can say, "That's just the way way I am" or we can agree with God it is a sin that has to be dealt with head on.
It may take repenting and turning the other way and it may be seeking Christian counsel, but we have a responsibility to sort it all out so we don't continue to fall in the same trap time and again. The enemy wants us to believe we can't accomplish the task but chose to believe that with God ALL things are possible.
Temptation is a strong urge or desire to have to do something; something that causes a strong urge or desire to have or do something and especially something that is bad, wrong, or unwise. What is your strong urge today?
May your desires be only towards God and all things holy and pure. Our passage says God is faithful and will make a way to escape every temptation. Do you believe Him? Nail your urges to the cross and leave them there. Step out in faith one moment at a time, one day at a time. Practice saying NO to the things that have had you bound for years and say YES to God and His direction for you. It may be time to get serious in your relationship with Him.

Day 81

Standing In The Gap
"And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their" own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord God" Ezekiel 22:30-31.
Ezekiel was looking for someone to stand in the gap. Why? So that God would not have to bring down judgement on the heads of the people. He loved us so much He gave His only begotten Son to stand in the gap for us...to pay our penalty. He never wants to bring judgement so he asked for someone to make a hedge and stand in the gap.
So let's stand in the gap for our prodigals through prayer. We can pray against the enemy who attempts to hold them in his grip with addiction to substances as well as other strongholds. Our intercession for them will hopefully break every bondage and set them free.
It is in the power of our prayers as we take up the burden of not only our prodigal but all prodigals. Let's covenant to pray them back to the Father. Oh how we long for them to come out of the darkness into His marvelous light. Hard to fathom that He longs for it even more, that He loves them even more than we do. We must trust Him in our prayers to do what He knows is best in answer, even if we must release them to Him physically.
You might want to pray like this: "Lord, Please allow me to stand in the gap for my prodigal and for others like him/her. We come in joint effort to storm the gates of heaven on behalf of our loved ones. Please Lord, hold Your hand of wrath for we long to see them serving You. May the chains of bondage fall off so they can be set free. May the scales fall from their eyes and allow them to hear You calling them home. In Jesus name, Amen.

Day 80

A Walk In The Park
"And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day:" Genesis 3:8a.
The weather is so beautiful this time of year and is a good time to take advantage of the season and go for a walk. We are blessed to have a nearby park that has a great two mile walking trail. People bring their children and their dogs. It's so much fun to chat a bit with the walkers and pet their dogs. Some folks walk, some run, some jog, and some ride their bike on the trail.
Each person can go at their own pace and there are benches along the way so you can stop and rest. By the time I made it around one and a half laps I needed to sit and rest. It is going to take me a while to build up my stamina. The hills are a little easier today than yesterday---it just takes determination and perseverance to keep going.
The park is back in the woods so we often see critters of all kinds. Lots of deer, horses in the pasture, birds singing, squirrels running and barking, but today there happened to be a snake right on the walking path. Now that's a critter I can do without but it's a reminder to always watch for the enemy even in the best of surroundings.
As hard as it is to maintain a physical routine to stay in shape it can also be difficult to stay spiritually fit. Each of us is at a different level in our walk. We learn and grow at our own pace. We all need rest periods where we come aside in a personal retreat with God.
My alone time with the Father was a short one today, but refreshing. It was a great time of listening for His voice as I enjoyed His creation. The Spring makes everyone come alive after a long dark, cold winter.
Why not take the time to go for a walk outside today with just you and God. Ask him to speak to you, then be quick to obey His instruction to you. Write down any special moments in your journal later for future reference. Don't you want to hear the voice of the Lord while walking in the cool of your garden or park? God still speaks today just as He did in the beginning of time but you must be listening. Sometimes that requires a deliberate walk alone with Him.

Day 79

Those In Darkness Have Seen a Great Light
"The people {Prodigals} walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a Light has dawned" Isaiah 9:2.
This was our ministry focus passage last year. Each board member was given an oil lamp at our planning meeting so they could remember to shine in the darkness and be reminded to pray for each prodigal to see a great light. So many are in the darkness of drugs, alcohol, or sexual addiction. Oh how we long for them to be set free.
It reminds me of the song entitled, 'This Little Light of Mine' which most of us learned as children. One verse I recall said, "Won't let Satan blow it out, I'm going to let it shine". We can come against the strongholds in our loved ones life through intercession and sharing His Word in one way or another.
On Wings, with the help of our donors, sends Bibles in weekly to the prisoners. One of our inmates wrote this to us: "I am so thankful God sent OWLAD into my life. I have begun to love myself again and to love Christ and He is making everything brand new in my life. I can never ever forget our friendship because when everyone in the world thought of me as a monster, you gave me hope, encouragement, courage and peace".
Many others have expressed how the Word is blessing them and how they see men studying it in their facility and that it is making a difference. Psalm 119:105 reads, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path". It is like a lantern or a flashlight that lights our path enabling us to see clearly in the darkness. Even if they trip and fall they can get back with the Word as their guide.
Why not pray this prayer from this Isaiah passage for your prodigal and watch to see what God does in their lives. Let your own light shine brightly and remember to never let Satan blow it out. Keep your flame of prayer burning, never letting it burn out until your prodigal finds his or her way home. Also Thank Him today for shining His Light on you and bringing you out of your darkness

Day 78

New Office Space
"Sanctify yourselves for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you" Joshua 3:5.
Two years ago when we found out that we would have to move from our office space of seven years, I had an overwhelming uncertainty come over me. We were already needing more space but how would we be able to find more space at no more than what we had budgeted at this space. We began to pray for direction and guidance.
One day I talked to another tenant in the building and he shared the name of the Realtor they had worked with to find them a space. The next day my friend and I decided to walk down to the building and get his contact information. The guard at the door was kind enough to take us right up to the office where the Realtor was and introduced us. He immediately showed us an available space in the building.
He showed us several office spaces in other locations which all seemed to neither fit our needs or our budget. One evening before retiring I was reading the scripture and praying. I came across the key passage from Joshua so I meditated on it and went to bed.
The next morning I said, "Okay Lord, I am ready to see wonders today". I hadn't been at the office very long when I got an email that the realtor wanted us to see an office he had listed in Old Salem. He said it was above our budget but the owners might be willing to work with us. I was amazed as we walked in and immediately knew in my spirit that this was the place for us.
I had asked the Lord in the beginning to show us something so we would know it could have only been Him; boy did He. In a little over two months we were settled in our new home with over twice the size for about the same price we had paid previously. Each time I am amazed at His provision as my key turns in the door. Each day He continues to amaze me as I follow Him.
What a faith builder this experience was to our whole team at On Wings. Why did I doubt that God had a better plan in mind for us as a ministry and had prepared much better accommodations from which to minister to our families. Hopefully the next time He closes one door I will be much more open to trust His provision of something better. How about you, how has your faith been tested recently?

Day 77

Whispers in the Wind
"The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit" John 3:8 NKJV.
Years ago a newsletter came to me in the mail. In it was an article by Jack Hayford which was so encouraging to me as I walked through the rough times with my prodigal. I want to share it here with the hopes that it will encourage you on this March day.
"Every March brings the reminder of God's dealing with young people to establish His will in their lives. This March He is ready to do the same.
In Isaiah 43:5-7, God declares His commitment to breathe His call to our descendants "from the west and east, the north, and the south. He says, "I will bring them, I will say, Give them up. Do not keep them back. Believe my Word of promise. There is no place My voice cannot reach your children. Call upon Me---and I will call unto them!
With the words from our key passage our Lord not only describes God's supernatural ability to breathe life into deadened spirits, but also He teaches us the wisdom of refusing to doubt He is at work in people we despair of reaching or in human circumstances we think may be beyond redemption
Even now, I am already going before you, faithful servant. I am breathing into the dark corners of hearts that are darkened, blinded, bound and tormented. Though no one knows what I am doing or with whom I am dealing each one of them is aware of it!"
We pray unto God and God calls unto our prodigal. He is the One Who breathes life into a seemingly hopeless situation. Cry unto Him today and everyday. No one is beyond redemption; no one!

Day 76

Day 76
“They came up to Jesus and saw the madman sitting there wearing decent clothes and making sense, no longer a walking madhouse of a man”. (Mark 5:15, Message)
Occasionally I watch Interventions on television. Having walked through drug addiction with our son, I desire to see each one who comes to the time of intervention accept the freedom offered from the grips of drugs and alcohol. It seems we are seeing more and more families affected by this plague.
The other night a young man on the program, we will call Eric, was addicted to crystal meth. At age eight he had lost his Dad his to drugs by suicide and he did not have the chance to work through his grief. So, at an early age he began experimenting with drugs to deal with his own grief and loss. He had turned into a bitter young man, often angry and disrespectful to his family.
It made me think of the demoniac that Jesus delivered from the legions raging in him. What a different picture of this young man after he chose to receive deliverance from the drugs. He came back home clothed differently and in his right mind, with a whole different attitude and presentation. There was no mention of anything spiritual having taken place, but it was obviously deliverance. The influence of the drugs that Satan had enticed him with had totally changed his demeanor. He was blind to their effects it had on his life and that of his family. He thought the drugs were helping him to escape, but they were taking him further into darkness.
His mother had given up her life and her opportunities to work through her grief while enabling her son in his drug addiction. It was killing her, but she could not see a way out, no light at the end of the tunnel. Each day became just another pain filled day spent just getting through.
This story has a happy ending as the son chose to go to rehab and the family received counseling. There was a three month separation period in which each member received instruction in ways to progress towards healthy boundaries with each other.
I believe many are in that cycle of grief without any peace, joy, or hope that anything will or can ever change. Oftentimes instead of dealing with the issues at hand we stick our heads in the sand and believe it is too hard to do the work needed to walk our journey in a healthy way. It may be too painful to confront the reasons that have us where we are. It is easier to sweep it all under the rug, pretending its not happening.
It all made me rethink some ways in my own life that I am not setting healthy boundaries. I think I might need a review in that area, how about you. Will you set in motion a plan to learn how to set those healthy boundaries? We are never too old to learn new approaches or methods for our own recovery. After all, God does not only want our prodigals to be free but us as well. Are you willing to do the work it will take?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Day 75

Overwhelmed By God's Compassion
"I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah" Psalm 77:3.
When we first meet someone we may not realize the purpose God has in mind for bringing us together. It may be hours, days, or years before He reveals the purpose of the connection.
One night recently my friends and I sat at the dinner table with other attendees at the conference we were attending. After we started to eat two ladies came and sat down right beside me . As we engaged in conversation we were immediately drawn to each other. One of the ladies in particular was witty, full of life, and eager to share.
The next evening in the conference room the same ladies sat right in front of us. This time one of them came to us with tears in her eyes asking for prayers for her son. I immediately knew why God had connected us the night before.
After the meeting we shared and I tried to encourage her. Later the tears ran down my face as my spirit was overwhelmed with God's compassion and love for this mother who was hurting. What are the odds that with the six hundred people in attendance this grieving mother would sit down right beside me, have the burden to share her prayer request with us, and briefly share her story that matched mine so closely.
The grief she demonstrated was one I had experienced time and again on my own journey with a prodigal. With God's help I was able to share a message of hope and a word of encouragement with her.
The interesting thing was that we stood in almost the very spot where Henry Blackaby and I had stood years before as he prayed with me as I wept with these words, "Lord, help this mother to never give up". Now we had come full circle and I was the one giving encouragement to her to never give up.
With conviction I was able to express my belief that absolutely nothing is impossible with God. Having lived to see our son return to God I was confident that it is possible. It might take lots of pain and tears but it is possible to see light when there seems to be none. If you find yourself doubting God can work in your situation confess it and believe that nothing is impossible with Him.

Day 74

You Are Beautiful to God
Listen, spirit as your Lover tells you from the Song of Solomon 4:1, 9-10 that you are His beautiful one: “How beautiful you are, my beloved! Oh, how beautiful! All beautiful you are, my beloved; there is no flaw in you. You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride with one look of your eyes, with one link of your necklace. How fair is your love, my sister, my bride! How much better than wine is your love, and the scent of your perfumes is better than all spices!”
One day I shared a conversation with a patient while preparing her for surgery. She had such a sweet spirit and we were able to talk freely. She had experienced divorce, the accident of her daughter, who was left severely physically incapacitated, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and was separated, from her present husband.
As she talked, she began to express how much she had disappointed God with her wrong decisions and choices. She feared facing God at the judgment seat. I was able to share with her that if she had confessed those things God had promised to remember them no more. In fact, He had cast them as far as the east was from the west. Yes, we will all have things to answer for, but not for those things He has forgiven us for.
She felt she was not attractive because of her nose, her this, her that, but I told her how beautiful she was in God’s eyes. Haven’t you met folks who were very attractive physically, only to find out that their spirit was not attractive? On the other hand you know people who may not be attractive outwardly, but who have the most beautiful spirit.
What does God say? Man looks on the outward appearance, but He looks on the heart. Hollywood has brain washed us into thinking the outward is most important.
Do you find yourself feeling like this young lady----like you’ve made too many mistakes for God to express how beautiful you are? I believe we are preparing the gowns we will wear as we live out our lives in preparation for our meeting with our Bride-Groom Lover one day. They will either be pure white embroidered with pearls and precious, stones or dingy, dirty with the filth of the world. We each have the choice of hearing the words of our scripture today or hearing, depart, I never knew you. What is your choice today? You are ALL beautiful to me and I know you are to our Father.
Have you allowed the enemy to deceive you as he whispers that you are ugly or worthless? If so, will you right now accept God's words of affirmation? He says you are beautiful, will you believe Him? Strive to develop your beauty on the inside as you apply His Word.

Day 73

Deliver The Prodigals Lord
“O Lord my God, I put my trust in You. Save me from all who pursue me and deliver me that he not tear my soul like a lion ripping it to pieces when there is no one to deliver.” Psalm 7:1-2.
Last week someone told me that their friend had let her Yorkshire terrier outside and a Rottweiler had torn it to pieces before she could go back out to bring him in. Being such an animal lover, the story made my insides queasy and I grieved over the plight of that little dog who didn’t stand a chance.
The next day I turned to a devotional by Charles Spurgeon which read as follows: “When the fierce lion had pounced on the defenseless lamb and had made it his prey, he would tear the victim in pieces, break all the bones, and devour all, because no shepherd was near to protect the lamb or rescue it. This is the soul-moving portrait of a saint delivered over to the will of Satan. This will make the bowels of Jehovah yearn. A father cannot be silent when a child is in peril. No, he will not endure the thought of his darling in the jaws of a lion. He will rise up and deliver His persecuted one.”
This reminded me of the prodigals we so desperately cry out to the Father to deliver from the jaws of the roaring lion who goes about on this earth seeking whom he may devour. Sometimes he does seem to be the Rottweiler and we the Yorkshire Terrier. Satan seems stronger but we know our Father is the Victor and will fight for us as His children and we must fight for our children in prayer.
We are the shepherds who stand watch all day and all night on behalf of our lambs who have gone astray. The shepherds would watch over their sheep protecting them from the wolves and lions if it literally meant giving of their own lives.
We as Mothers, Dads, siblings, grandparents fight in prayer as we intercede in the night watches. God has awakened me many a night to pray even though I knew not the reason at the time. I found I could not return to sleep until God’s peace would release me from my duty. Who knows the times our son was pulled from the lion’s jaws in prayer.

Day 72

Please Read 2 CHRONICLES 20: 9-21
Several years ago my husband and I were privileged to be at the beach and had begun to unwind and relax. We took in the beauty of the sunset, the wonderful sounds of the ocean waves and the activity of the seagulls as we leisurely walked the beach.
I had been writing a piece for the family newsletter we published each month and the Lord had taken me to 2 Chronicles 20, I thought it was to share with our mothers, but little did I know it was to prepare me for what was to come in our own lives.
We awakened the following morning to a call from our daughter saying that our son was in the ER after attempting to take his life. As I had alluded to in my testimony shared just weeks before, life can change so rapidly with just one phone call. Needless to say we began to pack and clean up for the long journey home and the vacation was over.
In verse 12 it says, “O our God, will You not exercise judgment upon them? For we have no might to stand against this great company that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.” As loved ones I am sure you, like myself, have often not known what to do in the situation you found yourself in. In this verse we are admonished to keep our eyes on God. Where are your eyes?
In verse 15 it says, “Be not afraid or dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours but God's”. As we drove home I kept repeating, “the battle is not mine Lord, it is Yours”. Just having that fresh word in my mind got me through some very difficult days. God had prepared me for this battle and He did bring deliverance for our son. I beg you to stay in His Word when you are going through your struggle with your prodigal. God may be preparing you for the battle of your life. You need His instructions and assurance as you go forward.
In verse 17 God reminds us to stand still, see His deliverance in our situation and He promises us that He will be with us. What better words were ever spoken. We can get through anything knowing He is by our side.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Day 71

[My companion] has put forth his hands against those who were at peace with him; he has broken and profaned his agreement [of friendship and loyalty]. Psalm 55.20 Amplified.
A friend in ministry has recently experienced the pain of someone close turning away from the friendship agreement they had.
In John 15:18, Jesus tells us, “If the world hates you, you know it has hated Me before it hated you.” Because we are not of the world, the world hates us. We can expect that of the world but when a friend betrays us it is like a knife in our heart. It is hard to wrap our brains around the fact that the one we use to have such fellowship with has turned away from that special time of friendship. It is a hurt like no other and is often hard to wrap our heads around.
It reminds me of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. Jesus knew what Judas was going to do but we are often blindsided. In my Bible, I have a note written at Matthew 26 which is the story of Jesus’ betrayal “Jesus did not focus on the betrayal. He just left it alone. He let God take care of the betrayer.” So what should our response be? Will you choose to leave it in God's hands or will you take matters into your own hands with the potential of doing major damage to your testimony? It is often tempting to strike back when we have been hurt or feel left out but it's not the solution.
In Psalm 55: 12-14 it reads: “For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it; neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him. But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company”. David was obviously crushed that the friend he had so cherished and even walked in the house of God with would desert him. Be wise enough to leave the matter in God's hands because I am pretty sure you may never understand it.

Day 70

Spring Is In The Air
"My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land" Song of Songs 2: 10-12.
At the first signs of spring I am reminded of our key passage. We are always glad to see the winter pass because it is often gloomy and cold, not conducive to growth. It is often a time of testing and trials. We look forward to it being over, especially when it has been a harsh winter both physically and spiritually speaking.
It's a time we find ourselves shut in with threats of snow, ice, and bitter cold. It is also often a season when people deal with depression because of the dark days and enclosure.
Spring is the opposite and promises a season of resurrection life once again. The flowers spring forth and the birds sing a happy song. In verse 12 it says "turtle" in the King James Version but in the Amplified it says "turtledove". Don't you just love to hear the cooing of the turtledove as they sense the coming of Spring? There is newness of life and the hope of new beginnings. You can just feel it in the air and begin to see people come out of their houses and begin to be energized.
Are you coming out of a winter of trials and testing? Do you sense there is a new beginning in the future as you emerge from the winter conditions of life? It may not be your favorite season but it has it's purpose.
Will you choose to sing a new song of praise to the Lord for seeing you through the winter conditions? Will you rise up and follow Him into your season of new growth with the hope of new life it brings. Christ has risen and has triumphed over every difficulty you have ever faced.

Day 69

Stagnant or Living
"He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" John 7:38.
While at a week-end Retreat I found my quiet spot on the rocks in the middle of the brook while having my time with the Lord. What a great place to meet with Him as I was surrounded by water rushing down all around me.
Later as I climbed over the rocks my eyes were drawn to a stagnant pool of water. It was not in the flow of water trailing down the hill. It looked dirty, and ugly with green slime pooled on the top. It made me think about our spiritual stagnation at times. We remove ourselves from the flow of God's Living Water by gradually pulling away from our time alone with Him, from reading His Word, from communicating with Him, or from fellowshiping with other Christians who help hold us accountable.
We can sometimes look as dirty as the world as we chosse to watch what they watch, read what they read, talk like they talk, laugh at the same dirty jokes they do, or go to the came clubs. I always ask, "Would I be comfortable doing this or saying that if Jesus were sitting there with me"? He really is there all the time isn't He because He says He never leaves us nor forsakes us. Sometimes sin begins to mount up in our lives like the thick green scum on the water and it turns ugly and smelly.
Maybe you sense you have gotten stagnant in your Chrisitan walk. What are some things you can do to get back in a steady flow of fresh, pure water. Won't you reconnect with God by being in His Word and letting His Living Water wash over you. Maybe you need to rededicate yourself to Him today. If someone looked at your life today would they see a difference from the world or would they see stagnation? Examine yourself, confess, and get back in His flow.

Day 68

Iron Sharpens Iron
Iron sharpenth iron; so a man sharpenth the countenance of his friend" Proverbs 27:17.
Friends, what would we do without them? Friends walk with us in the good, the bad, and the ugly. They see us at our best, but also at our worse. They know things about us others don't. Hopefully they hold us accountable when they see something in our Christian walk that shouldn't be there.
Is that your longing, to have friends who sharpen you, who try to steer you back on the straight path when you waver?
There have been times when I sensed God would have me speak to a fellow Christian who was allowing sin to damage their testimony. I remember crying as I confronted a friend over her lifestyle. It was a very hard thing to do but God did not give me peace until it was accomplished. What she chose to do was a decision she would have to make but afterwards I was able to have peace.
The tables have often been turned as a friend confronted me with the evil in my heart. I can't say I was always happy to be corrected, but hopefully as I reflected it became a wake up call that impacted me positively.
I am grateful for friends who challenge me in my walk with Christ. Maybe they see a situation with which I am dealing with a keener eye, maybe their insight will help me see clearer, maybe their prayers with and for me will change my perspective.
If you don't have friends who sharpen you why not pray for that kind of relationship right now. Choose someone who is walking closely to the Lord, then be open to their wise counsel. Don't choose friends who will just tell you what you want to hear, choose someone who will hold you accountable and vice versa.
I like the way the Living Bible writes the key passage: "A friendly discussion is as stimulating as the sparks that fly when iron strikes iron". I am so grateful for my friends even when the sparks seem to fly as iron strikes iron.

Day 67

Lord, Hear My Prayer
"Lord hear my prayer. Listen to my plea. Don't turn away from me in this time....Bend your ear and give me speedy answers" Psalm 102:1-2.
Recently my husband and I saw a rerun of a movie where the main character played the part of being God for a season in his life. He thought it was great to have the power to change circumstances for himself and others.
One day while sitting at his computer all these emails started coming in....thousands of prayer requests. He found it was impossible to answer them all and he quickly became very frustrated and threw up his hands in defeat.
Aren't you thankful that's not the way it is with our God? He hears every prayer we plead. Can't you just envision Him bending His ear down to hear your prayer today? Isn't that an awesome picture to visualize. Our passage says He bends down and answers quickly.
We can't even imagine how God can possibly hear every prayer much less attend to each one but that's His promise....therefore we believe. He is omnipresent and omniscient.
It is not always prudent to ask for speedy answers but at very difficult times it is often our heart's desire. We want answers quickly, we want the difficulty to stop, we want to know He is listening.
Take comfort from this passage today. Even if you don't see speedy answers believe that He heard and will answer in His time. Remember His ways, His times are not ours. Maybe He needs to do a work in you or in the person you are praying for while you are in the waiting period. Trust Him to answer your prayer right on time, every time.

Day 66

Follow Him

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you" Psalm 32:8.

Needing to get away for renewal and refreshment after full-time ministry I decided to enroll for a spiritual refreshment seminar at the Cove in Asheville. Little did I know what God had prepared for me there.
As I checked in at the Lodge a conversation developed with a couple on the elevator before I ever walked to my room. They shared that they were in ministry in the Bronx, N. Y. and I remember saying, "I need to hear your story". Imagine my surprise as the speaker called them up on stage to give a synopsis of how God was using them a day later.

Their mission was to reach the prostitute, the homeless, the drug addict, the poor, the destitute, and essentially anyone who needed Christ in their lives. What a demonstration of God's love they were. Our minstry goal is to see those in the dark come to the Light of Jesus so their story really resinated in my heart.
As I continued to listen I sensed God asking On Wings Like a Dove to join in their efforts. As He taught us what that would look like, He also promised to counsel us and watch over us as we obeyed His call to go to the worse part of the Bronx to help minister to the needs there.

Is God instructing you to step out in faith and follow Him? Will you trust His promise in our passage to counsel and watch over you in the way you should go? In a little over a month later we were priveleged to join this pastor and his wife on mission. We took a van packed with Treasure Boxes, bookbags, clothes, and hygiene items that had been given towards the effort. The experience we four ladies had as we responded to God's call to go is one we will always remember and cherish. Serving God is the most exciting adventure you can have so our advice is to follow Him wherever He calls.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Day 65

Letting Go

"All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children" Isaiah 54:13 (NKJV).

Mothers seem to have a hard time letting go of their children, expecially if that child is wounded, struggling with an emotional or physical issue, or when they seem headed in the wrong direction.  We long to rescue.

So many people advise you to let go, to let them find their way, to let them suffer the consequences of their actions.  But it is hard because from the time they were born we have protected them, loved them, picked them up when they fell down, bandaged their wounds, but now we have to come to face the fact that we need to let them go!  What does letting go look like?

Here is a poem by an unknown author that helps put it in perspective:

"To let go does not mean to stop caring; it means I can't do it for someone else.

To let go is not to be in the middle, arranging all the outcomes, but to allow other persons to affect their own destinies.

To let go is not to fix but to be supportive.

To let go is not to be protective; its to permit another to face reality.

To let go is to fear less and to love more.

When you love someone deeply, letting go is incredibily hard.

But I realized I must let go, for I do not own what I love".

Do you need to let go today?  Letting go doesn't mean you don't love; you don't pray; you don't encourage; it means you let go putting them in God's hands which allows Him to do the work needed.  We so often get in His way when we intervene and find ourselves going around and around in circles.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Day 64


"A wise son makes a glad father, But a foolish son is the grief of his mother"  Proverbs 10:1.

In the eight years we have been in ministry we have experienced grief as we loss  dear friends to disease who had served at On Wings, or we loss children of our families by death through overdose, or in the loss of those from our prodigal support group.  The loss we felt as the result of death is one kind of grief, but as we have all discovered, loss comes in other ways as well.

An unknown author put it in a way most of us as parents of prodigals can identify with:  "Sometimes a parent grieves the loss of a child who is still alive".  A loss of dreams, hopes, future plans, and sometimes the loss of communication.

We had someone come share about grief in one of our support group meetings one night.  It was such a great time of sharing as we realized the stages of grief applied to our situations.  Some of us had children in prison, on the streets in addiction, or were estranged from our child for reasons we could never have fanthomed.

My remembrace of that session was the feeling of release as I acknowledged my walk through all the stages of grief many times over the years. Some of us literally sobbed as our pain came out.  I often found myself hopeful that this time things would change, this would be the turning point, only to find ourselves right back in the same cycle of the horrible trap of addiction.

The stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance were all so real on our journey.  But it seemed no one seemed to notice, or bring chicken soup or a casserole, or send a card, or give us a call as we grieved so we often suffer alone.

Do you find yourself in one of the stages of grief today because of the choices of a loved one? You may know how painful that journey is.  Reflect on ways you might have grieved the Holy Spirit as you may have fallen away from the plans God had for you.   Ask His forgiveness and let Him restore your relationship to Him immediately.  We are or have all been prodigals in our lives.  The important thing is that we strive not to continue to grieve Him with our actions and choices.

Day 63

God's Protection

"For He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways.  They will bear you up in their hands, that you do not strike your foot against a stone" Psalm 91:11-12.

Our son and his family had a heat lamp set up at their dog's outside dog house to help keep him warm in the winter.  It seemed to be a good solution and had worked out for close to three years.

One night he and his wife were preparing for bed when they noticed a bright light and a crackling sound in the  backyard.  When they peered out the window they saw flames shooting up from the doghouse.

They quickly grabbed the fire extinquisher and headed to the door. Thankfully they were able to extinquish the flames before it got to the deck of the house.  It could have been a disaster.

As we discussed it later they both acknowleged that only God could have intervened in all the events of that night.  It was a miracle that they would be up that late, that they had the window open to hear the crackling sound and see the bright light, that they had an extinquisher and had been taught to use it, that the dog was not injured, but most of all that they and their home were protected.

My husband and I pray daily for God's protection and blessings on our children and their families both of a physical and spiritual nature.  We believe God hears our prayers and sets His angels in charge over them.

What an example of an answer to that prayer God gave us that night.  The icing on the cake for us was to hear the testimony from our son's family that they recognized that God protected them through it all.  Thankfully God had His angels encamped around the family.  Are you faithfully praying for protection for you and your family?  Do it daily.   It may just be a life saver.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Day 62

Casting your cares

“Casting all your care upon Him, For He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

As you’ve no doubt discovered, becoming a Christian does not make your problems go away, but it does give you an Advocate to whom you can take every concern. The Christians Peter addressed were facing persecution. They did not know whom they could trust; a friend, a neighbor, or even a family member could betray them, resulting in suffering and even death. But Peter had walked with the risen Christ, and he had personally experienced the love that Jesus had for His followers. He knew that Christ was in control, capable of handling every trial and that He wanted to do so as an expression of His love.

Casting our cares is a choice. It means consciously handing over our anxiety to Christ and allowing Him to carry the weight of our problems. At times this is the most difficult part of trusting God! We don’t like turning over the responsibility for our problems. We have been taught that self-reliance is good and praiseworthy. We may even enjoy worrying. Yet if we are to be freed from the burden of our concerns, we must choose to cast them into the strong hands of our Father.

Peter does not distinguish between little cares and big cares. God does not differentiate between problems we should handle on our own and God-sized needs. He asks us to turn them ALL over to Him. One of our greatest errors is to assume we can deal with something ourselves, only to discover that we really can’t. God sees you as his frail child, burdened with a load that surpasses your strength. He stands prepared to take your load and to carry it for you. Will you let Him come?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Day 61

I Have a Free Gift For You!

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”
Ephesians 2:8

My husband and I went to Concord Mills the other day. While going in and out of shops I had a
lady from a booth in the walkway try to entice me to come see her products. I said no, but she
had the perfect catch phrase, "I have a free gift for you." She got me by the arm and led me
over to apply an ingredient that cleansed my skin. The old dry skin came rolling off and it
actually did feel a lot smoother afterwards. She talked about how it prevented pimples and how
it exfoliated the skin making it smooth and young. She observed my old age spots and honed in on how her product would make me younger. She started explaining how the two products
were usually sold separately; one for $69.00 and one for $120.00. But today, I could purchase
both for $69.00. I told her repeatedly that I was not going to buy the product but she kept
trying to talk me into it with her hand on my arm. Eventually she even pulled me over to the
cash register to show me an even better deal. I told her that she was really convincing but as I
said before I was not purchasing anything. Her attitude seemed to change. As I prepared to
leave I told her that I would be praying for her. She was a Jew, here from Israel she said and I do pray for the Jews and her country. In a condescending manner she said, "Oh, I will be praying for you too." I immediately prayed against any foolish prayers from her. I really don't think I wanted her praying for me. She had indicated she did not know Our Father and I sensed her prayers would be against me, not for me. This ladies approach got me thinking! We have available the greatest gift of all yet we keep it to ourselves. We don't go out of our way to offer it to the passerby. We often don't say a word. We might need to offer a smile, a touch, a promise to pray for them in their circumstances, or a word of witness as to how Jesus coming into your heart has changed you.
I also envisioned how the enemy works to draw us in with promises of this and that. He tries to
hold on to us and entice us to purchase his products with promises of what he can provide. But God always makes a way out of his clutches.

 We can choose to stand our ground and say, "NO."

Sometimes we yield and then walk away wondering how in the world we fell for his lies. We can get drawn in even when our intentions to speak a word of hope to them is pure. Satan can hold on to us (strongholds) in such a way that if we don't have our armor on and stand on the Word of God, we can be drawn in to his schemes.

By the way, I never did see a "free gift." Praise Him we can give out His free gift of salvation to
all who will receive. I praise Him for the opportunity to share with this young lady. I can still see her face. So blinded! What a great reminder to pray, not only for her, but for her people to receive God's grace.

-Sandra Kearns